Sunday, October 16, 2016

Ed Gorman, A Writer of Our World

I found out yesterday Ed Gorman died late Friday night, October 14, 2016, after a years long struggle with multiple myeloma. A disease he had for as long as I knew him, and a disease I thought would never really kill him. I have corresponded with him, mostly through email, for somewhere close to ten years. I always looked forward to his emails because they made me laugh – he promised more than one Maserati – and he had such keen insights about writers, books, writing, and politics that he also made me think. He supported me, and this blog, more than you (or I) can imagine.

Ed asked me to write an introduction for Stark House’s reprint of his fine novels The Autumn Dead and The Night Remembers in 2014. He put me in touch with a couple editors at Mystery Scene Magazine a year later who gave me a shot at writing book reviews. It went well, I think, since they keep sending me books to review.

But the best thing Ed gave me, and at heart I’m really a fanboy so this is something special, was his friendship. It wasn’t anything grand. We didn’t speak on the telephone for hours, meet for drinks, or anything else most friends do, but we did get to know each other in that fuzzy, Twilight Zone, way the internet allows. He sent me books. His and other writers he thought I would enjoy. He always inscribed his own titles with a funny little note and signed it simply, “Ed”. One of my favorite inscriptions arrived on the title page of his novel, The Midnight Room, in 2009—

“That million+ I owe you is on the way as soon as Bernie Madoff pays me back!”

He often asked about my daughter, and he always, and I mean always, thanked me for everything I did for him. Just so you know, I didn’t do nearly as much for Ed as he did for me. When his illness really started to wear on him a few years ago he asked me if I would review a few books other writers had sent him, hoping for a review on his blog. I readily agreed and after I sent him the second review he insisted that I be paid. I demurred since I know how much revenue literary blogs generate – none at all – but he remained insistent and from then on every so often he would send me a small payment in my Paypal account.

Ed Gorman was a great writer. It is true he was a great mystery writer. A great western writer. A great suspense, both dark and straight, writer. He was all that, but he was, simply, a great writer. He could write anything and he frequently escaped the genre where he wrote and created something very much like literature. His stories always said something about the human condition, the world we live in. His characters, always vivid, were three dimensional. He never wrote a wholly good hero, or a completely stained villain. He wrote about us – our experience in the world – in stories that were larger than life with players so real we can very nearly see them in our bathroom mirrors.

Ed Gorman was a great writer, but he was an even better friend. And I think it is going to be a very long time before I open my email without a glimmer of hope that there will be an email from Ed. I miss you already, my friend, and my thoughts are with your family.

10 comments:

Bill Crider said...

A fine tribute, Ben.

Ami said...

So sorry Ben. I hate death so much. ami

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Thank you, Ben.

James Reasoner said...

The Maserati was always on the way, wasn't it? Ed was a nice guy, plain and simple. One of the last times I heard from him was a request to help out another writer, something I was glad to do, of course. Nobody ever boosted more of his fellow writers than Ed did.

Damn it. What do we do without him around anymore?

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Ben, thank you for this wonderful tribute to Mr. Gorman. I'm glad you knew him as well as you did. Your friendship introduced me to many authors and their books, through your reviews on both your blogs. I'm certain I first heard about you and your splendid blog when I read one of your reviews on his. He reproduced them regularly, I think. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Gorman's books.

Mathew Paust said...

Your heartfelt eulogy breathed life into Ed once more for those many of us who loved him as you did, Ben. Still finding it hard to accept his passing.

michael said...

Thank you Ben. It was good to read your piece. It brought some solace. His otherwise regular blog site had been quiet since early Summer. Shocking news nonetheless. Typically his last message is one supporting another writer (Max AC, for whom he had deep admiration. Looking at it from a distance it seemed like Ed was the fabric holding an entire community of mystery and western writers together. Undoubtedly my favourite writer. I felt I got to learn him best through the figure of Sam McCain. If you want to get to know him, that would be a great place to start. If you're anything like me, you'll be hooked in no time. What a dreadful loss. Damn indeed.

Stephen Mertz said...

A fine tribute to a fine man. I met Ed at Al Collins' home during one of my open-end road trips in the 1980s. I'll always remember us going out to dinner later that evening with Carol, Barb and my Wife #2. A great evening but what I remember most is casually making a disparaging remark about Bobby Daren, whom Ed and Al strangely held in very high regard to the point of deification (!?). Al & Ed looked at each other, nodded and then reached for their butter knives as if this was war and it was time to silence the infidel. The man *cared* about his likes and dislikes. We were acquaintances more than friends, but I know that when the history of my generation of writers is written, Ed Gorman will be regarded as one of the very best...if he isn't already. Thanks, Ed. RIP.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Very nicely said, Ben.

Cheers,
Jeff

Jo Walpole said...

Although I read some of his westerns and read his blog, I never approached him. It sounds like I missed a treat. RIP.